I just read a wonderful article by a lady who is rich, not as we usually consider riches, but rich in her wisdom and in her relationship with God. See: www.danceintherain.com. It reminded me of a time in our lives, Linda and me, probably 43 years ago or more.
It had been a hard period of time. We had gone through some extreme pressures in our lives and marriage. Things were not good. Try as I might, I could not make them good. The harder I tried, the more tired I got and the worse things seem to get. But I could not give up. That was not part of my makeup. I always win. Well, almost always. But this was not a sporting context and there were no rules and I had no clue how to play this game.
Women do not come with an owner’s manual and life only comes with an old one, in fact thousands of years old. I read it, looked through it for answers, but none seemed to come. I felt alone and lost and without a clue how to proceed in life.
I was working for General Motors and traveled from time to time to various places to try to fix various problems for GM dealers. I was good at what I did and received high praise from both the dealers and the company. But, when the time was over at a dealership and I had to leave, there was no shaking the inexorable sense of failure for not fixing my own life and making everything work the way I had planned.
Somewhere in that battle with a growing sense of failure, I decided I could not fix it. I remember the growing awareness that my sense of omniscience was not my friend but my enemy. I was not God and the illusion that there was a solution to every problem was just that – an illusion. This problem did not have a solution and I was not going to be the hero and fix it. I would have to walk away, leave it to God and place my efforts on those things that I could fix.
About a week later I got a call from Linda. She was coming to San Diego where I was visiting dealers and she wanted to talk to me. I knew what was coming. She was going to ask for a divorce. I knew it. All was lost. But it was time to face it and to move on with whatever was the inevitable consequence of life without illusions. I took deep breaths and met her as agreed. But what I found was something quite different than I imagined. Instead of a confrontation and the dreaded notice I expected, she fell into my arms weeping. Something had broken inside, and it poured out in bitter tears of remorse and pleas for forgiveness. This paragraph is short, but the story is long. The details are gone, and not of any importance.
We drove to Old Town in San Diego and had lunch at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, then walked through the shops, talking, remembering, thinking and planning. As we entered a pottery shop we shared the marvel of the colors, shapes and skill that the artisan displayed, but were draw to the indoor studio where he worked. There, his hands glided over the clay on the spinning wheel, as he shaped, little by little, step by step, his next masterpiece. Wetting his hands, he started at the bottom and worked the clay upward, drawing it into the rough resemblance of a vase, then suddenly he stopped, turned off the wheel and crushed the clay into a ball again. The he kneaded it as a baker would knead a hunk of bread dough, then poked with his fingers until he found something. Reaching into the clay with his fingers he extracted a lump, discarder it and turner the wheel back on, and started over.
We stood dumbfounded, watching until he finished a beautiful vase. But as he finished, he tuned to look at us. We stood, hand in hand, opening weeping. He started to come over to us, then realized that this was a private moment and it was good, not sad. We had just seen in graphic form what God had been working in our lives. “Hath not the potter power over the clay…”
We expect much of life in our youth. We never expect pain, suffering and difficulty. But the inescapable reality is, everyone gets their share. No one escapes the hand of God. The lessons are simple, yet they seem so terribly hard to learn. You either submit to the hands of the potter, or the hands of the potter will perform His purpose at your expense. It is not a matter of the will of the potter. He does not consult with the clay, yet his purpose is good and the end result grand.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Difficulty is not the end. It is not an end in itself, but a beginning. When the illusions of doing life your own way bring you only to the dead end of desperation, it is then that you can embrace the problem rather than run from it. It is in coming to the end of ourselves that we find the beginning of the masterpiece He was working toward all the time.
Brokenness is not weakness. Not at all. In fact, accepting our limitations and learning dependence on the Creator, is the path that requires a strength that we cannot psych ourselves up to. Brokenness is the point of release into a new arena of strength – His strength.
I recommend it!